The pandemic has changed us all in many ways. It not only changed how we work together, it changed how we think about work. The lines between our personal and professional lives were blurred and we started questioning things that we had always accepted without a doubt. First off, is our conception of work outdated? Secondly, do we need to rethink the way we work so that we can move from a culture of control to one of trust? And, last but not least, what about the mythical life-work balance? I know I’m not the only one who struggled with these questions during and after the pandemic…
Humans have the capacity to adapt to anything, and we did, but now we have an opportunity to change how we do things. And if we’re intentional about it, we can actually help create a new way of working. Easier said than done, right? Well, then I guess the question is: Are we going to recognize that we don’t have all the answers and that we need to co-create them with our team? Or are we going to go back to our outdated comfort zone?
Indicius went from having a beautiful office at WeWork, overlooking the glistening River Plate, and one home-office day per week, to becoming completely remote during the pandemic, and deciding to be a fully-remote agency afterwards. We realized that we could work just as well – we had the necessary tools and it gave us all more flexibility. The money we used to rent an office started going towards benefits, better salaries and events where we could all meet and have fun together. But remote work isn’t perfect and like everything else in life, it has a couple of downsides. We were able to see some of them coming, yet others crept up on us and forced us to rethink how we were doing things.
When the pandemic hit, our CEO quickly came up with a great protocol for how to work remotely, which worked really well for the first couple of years. However, in the last year, the team has grown and we’ve started having difficulties with communication, organization and burnout. As part of the solution, we hired Sense, an amazing HR consulting team, that’s helping us consolidate processes and practices that allow us to elevate what we’d been doing intuitively to something that could really benefit both our team and the company. Additionally, Nat Dzigciot reached out with the idea of collaborating on something that could generate an impact both internally and in today’s world. Her timing was perfect because we needed to grow, individually and as a team.
We ended up creating a safe space called InDiversity were we generated well thought out conversations about diversity and mental health. This allowed us to share personal experiences and get to know each other better, so that we could generate deeper connections. We needed to look inwards and reconnect before we could find out what impact we could have in the outside world.
To create our hybrid work culture we had to start by listening to what everyone needed and identifying what was working and what wasn’t. We ran a workshop to understand what it meant for our team to work ‘sustainably’ and what we needed to prioritize to support them in that quest. They all agreed on the need for real connection, both on and off the clock. They also valued flexibility and wanted more of it. Yet lots of them were struggling to find the right organization and communication tools to avoid feeling stressed out and anxious. We needed to create a culture that worked for us and that was able to continuously evolve based on the needs of our team and the company. A culture of trust where we could listen, understand, make mistakes and bring our whole selves to work, not just the ‘professional side’.
I realize that this isn’t something that we’re going to fix from one day to the next - it’s going to take time and collaboration. It’s also going to take discipline, because if you want to thrive in a hybrid work environment you need to embrace flexibility (different models in the company, not one size fits all) and discipline (mindful practices, processes, communication and organization). As Gustavo Razzetti says: Discipline is the glue that holds a flexible workplace together - you can’t have one without the other.
Right now, there are a lot of things that we are doing and plan to do to intentionally create the work culture we want and need. We’ve started doing collaborative huddles (voice calls) on Slack to work together, and we’re trying to replace our typical water-cooler talks with starting an open voice channel in our team chat and letting anyone jump on and talk about whatever they want. We’re also working on a new remote work culture manual, which in itself has led us to generate so many interesting initiatives.
One example is that we created our own template of the Manual of Me, which is basically a document that talks about your personal and work preferences - from ideal working hours to how you prefer to receive feedback or praise, and your favorite hobbies, among lots of other things. We want to get to know each other better and create guidelines for communication and collaboration that work for all of us. This week, we all met up in Buenos Aires for our mid-year event, we’re bunking together for 4 nights, going to co-workings, eating awesome food, having meaningful conversations, carrying out a culture workshop, and some other fun activities. And this is just the beginning, there’s a lot more going on. We’ll keep sharing what we’re doing, our hits and our misses, for anyone else out there that might want to rethink an obsolete work paradigm that expects us to behave like robots and hide who we really are.